The Parable of the Unprepared Boater

On a peaceful, sunny day at the harbor, as the boater was enjoying the water and plentiful sunshine, a thought entered the boater’s mind. “I think I should prepare the dinghy for the storm that’s coming. I should go and put the cover on it, before the storm arrives.”

But the boater was busy with other things, and after those were done, the boater knew they would be too tired to deal with preparations for the dinghy and the coming storm too. So the boater brushed off that “prepare” thought and continued to enjoy the beautiful, sunshiny day at the harbor.

But the sunshine and peace didn’t last, and the storm came as expected. The boater knew that now, in the midst of the storm the dinghy must be covered or it would fill up with water and be overcome and perhaps even be sink. So the boater, with rain falling, winds blowing, clothes drenched, body aching, covered the dinghy with much effort and grumbling, because the boater knew that they should have prepared the dinghy earlier, before the storm arrived.

The boater’s prepared/covered dinghy

I believe you could easily glean a moral or two from this parable. So, please do. Apply it and gain from it anything you see.

My intended purpose was to use my real life experience, as a lesson and picture of what’s happening in our world today.

Yes, I am the boater in this parable who didn’t pay attention to the voice that said “Prepare. I didn’t prepare before the storm. I ignored the signs and weather forcasters warning of the coming storm.

We are living in stormy times and I fear a storm is still on the horizon. Reputable forecasters are speaking of it and issuing warnings to “Prepare”. It behooves us to pay attention to the coming storm and prepare.

There are many ways to prepare. Look inside yourself, evaluate the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs there. Look up for help. Look in your family, home, place of business, church, bank, store. Begin to prepare.

The urgency of the day says it’s time to prepare. Not wait til the storm arrives, because then the winds will blow and rain will fall, your body will be achy, and you will be grumbling. Now is the time to prepare.

Please, accept a Parable from the Unprepared Boater – ME.

Cheers to you.

Let’s Celebrate!

Celebrations are fun. (or are supposed to be)

They are generally happy times with family or friends. They are often loud & colorful, but can also be quiet and simple. Celebrations happen for all kinds of events, people, reasons, successes, and accomplishments.

Celebrations help us remember what matters.

In my city this week we begin “The Festival of Whales” celebration, where we actually celebrate the annual migration of whales! It’s a fun time with a parade, vendors, kids activities, lots of food and music.

In a couple of weeks a neighboring city is celebrating the annual return of the swallows to Mission San Juan Capistrano.

In Pine Bush, New York they celebrate UFO’s and Aliens yearly. Who knew?

Celebrations can be big (national or city wide) or small (personal). But science has told us a few things about the importance of celebrations. Celebrations:

  • release stress
  • provide motivation
  • are linked with gratitude (and we all know the benefits of gratitude)
  • help us to remember important things
  • are just plain fun
  • call attention or honor a person or things gained

Me thinks, it’s time to celebrate YOU, on a personal level.

Your accomplishments. You got up today, right? You’re still breathing and fighting, right? What other things, (you may say little things) in your life do you need to celebrate? Did you try something new? Loose weight? Take a risk? Make that phone call? Had that conversation? Ate something new? Did something without forgetting? Actually sat down for a while? Read a book? Send that email? Paid those bills? Ordered that item? Renewed that subscription? Did your nails? Folded the clothes? Fixed a meal? Cleaned the closet, drawer, room oh geesh, this cleaning never stops!

All of those and hundreds more “little things” are worth celebrating. YOU and the things you do are worth celebrating. There is nothing stupid about it, nothing unimportant about it. Celebrating your “little”, daily accomplishments will give you a boost, motivation and so much more.

Celebrating simply make us feel better. Seriously, those oxytocins, which reduce stress thrive on celebrations. We feel more energy even.

So I say, find something to celebrate. Right now. Think about it. What can you celebrate right now? Got it? Well then, there’s nothing left to do than CELEBRATE. (Hear the music “Celebrate Good Times, C’mon” in the background now?)

Yay! Good for you! Way to go! That was awesome! Party on!

Cheers to YOU.

What do you trust in?

Been thinking a lot about our national motto – In God We Trust. Frankly, I think I forgot it was more than a phrase on our money and that it had been selected as our national motto. Oops…

It first appeared on US coins in 1864, when it appeared on the 2 cent coin. It was after the Secretary of Tresury Salmon Chase received requests for the US to recognize the Diety on coins. That first letter came to him in 1861 and it was not long after that he directed the US Mint in Philadelphia to prepare a motto. In his letter to them, he said,

“No nation can be strong except in the strength of God…the trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins. You will cause a device to be prepared without unnecessary delyay with a motto expressing in the fewest and tersest words possible this national recognition.”

Solomon Chase, Director of Treasury 1861

After legal issues were settled, on April 22, 1864, In God We Trust first appeared on the 2 cent coin. In 1873 The Coinage Act stated that it may be inscribed on other coins. By 1938 all US coins bore the motto.

Then on July 30, 1956, the 84th Congress approved IN GOD WE TRUST as the national motto and President Eisenhower signed the bill. In 1957 the national motto was first used on US paper money.

Fast forward and look at the tremendous change in American thinking:

  • 1984 – the courts use the phrase “ceremonial deism” to say that the motto “through constant use has lost it’s religious content and is no longer religious in nature.”
  • 1994 – The Freedom From Religion sued the federal government to have In God We Trust removed from currency.
  • 2006 – CA Court of appeals – “the national motto… has no theological or ritualistic impact and is purely secular, patriotic and ceremonial in character.”
  • 2019 – The American Athiests condemned the North Dakota bill allowing the display of the national motto in public schools.

There’s so much more, but I don’t want to loose you in the History.

It has become apparent that not everyone agrees that In God We Trust. So I ask, what do YOU trust in? Money, friends, family, self, God…

Trust is the basis of all human systems of morality. Upon what do you build that trust? I don’t care if it’s “Affective trust” – trusting with your heart, or “Cognitive trust” – trusting with your head. Psychologists say those are the 2 kinds of trust, so pick one or the other, or both.

At the bedrock of your life, my life, what’s there to attach trust to? In the stresses and storms of life, what holds me secure? When loss and pain overcome me, who/what do I take it to? When the Coronavirus scares me and threatens my loved ones, who or what strengthens and comforts me? What do you trust in for confidence, strength, hope, comfort, support?

I think that Secretary Chase, President Eisenhower and millions of others through the ages actually got it right. But that’s my opinion, my belief. It is also my purpose for writing this and my hope – that you, too, will trust in God.

In God We Trust.

Cheers to you.

What’s happened to truth and righteousness?

Just today I had a conversation with a friend in which I said, “I don’t believe everything I am told. Far too often, I don’t believe people tell the truth”. This so reminded me of the dozens of times my sister and I have had similar conversations.

Is it 41 years of teaching and hearing so many “stories”? Is it working with teenagers for so long? Is it the culture? Is it the society? Is it the years I spent working in jails, prisons and juvenile detention centers? Is it having raised a son in the 1990’s? Is it just me? I dunno. I can say that my sister and my friend are both waaaay more trusting and believing than I am.

Where do you stand? Are you a believer in what people tell you or a doubter?

The truth is, if you listen to much news, or politics, or are privy to administrative meetings, sales reps, and commercial pitches you will find it sorely lacking. Especially in this modern age of being “woke”. Unfortunately, “truth” has morphed into “my truth”, “your truth”, “their truth”. What has happened to truth?

Then, there is the old English, long, lost word – righteousness. It’s not used much, but it’s root is – righteous. Now that’s used as more of an old, cool, trendy, surfer, exclamation – “That’s righteous”. (Can you tell I grew up in the 60’s/70’s?) Where else is it used? The Righteous Brothers? (sorry another old one)

Do our young people even know what it is? Sometimes I wonder the same about truth. What’s happened to righteousness?

Here’s the deal, I don’t particularly like the direction our society is going. I’m not a fan of what has become accepted as the “norm”, the “everyone’s doing it” ploy. You can agree or disagree. But I am not willing to let society (and our kids) go uncontested, unchallenged, and down this slippery slope.

I am not willing to give in to the “no absolutes” philosophy or the “accepting everything” morals. I believe there are absolutes and truth is not just “my” truth”, but “the truth”. (Sorry Oprah)

“Truth – that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.”

“Righteousness – acting in accord with divine or moral law: free from guilt or sin”

“Righteous – (of a person or conduct) morally right; virtuous. Very good, excellent.”

Merriam Webster

I just feel that we can make an impact by what we say, do and believe. By what we stand up for, speak up for and won’t stand for.

We can make a difference by speaking the truth and not compromising on confronting untruths. Holding to truthfulness.

We can make a difference by living “rightly” – righteous, in righteousness. We’re not perfect, but we can choose to live right, and we can choose to do what is right and not be troubled by guilt.

What’s happened to truth and righteousness?

Cheers to you

It’s time to bloom

California superbloom

It’s March, nearly spring – officially, and it is beginning to look like it all around us. Plants and flowers are beginning to open up and show off their beauty. Seeds have sprouted (or soon will), and the 300,000 species of Kingdom Plantae are about to display what’s really in them. These angiosperms will produce flowers and bear their seeds in fruits because that is what they were designed to do – bear seeds and fruit.

Yum, sunflower seeds

Inside the plant is a gene called “apetala 1” and it tells the plant to start blooming. That gene is triggered when the petals within the bud start growing to the point that they invert because they have filled with so much water and the only place to go is out! So out they come. BLOOM. Flowers. Beauty. Bam.

“The process of flowers opening up is part of plants reproductive cycle. If a plant does not bloom or develop seeds, it cannot be pollinated. A plant that blossoms is mature and ready to take part in the development of seeds that will carry new plant life to surrounding areas.”

Bloomstoday.com

God had this whole seed, plant, flower, thing going on from the very beginning. And from the beginning, it has been of the utmost importance to Him and us. You see, it was there, He instructed us, mankind, to “Be fruitful and multiply…”. Bloom. Bear fruit. Plant seeds. Grow. Reproduce.

We can understand that having children is not all that is implied here, right? In fact, we can be fruitful and multiply without ever parenting a child. But as we grow and mature, fill up, and finally open up/bloom, we are being fruitful and bearing seeds. Just as seeds are a plants’ offspring, our offspring are the seeds we have developed and planted in the lives of others. The seeds we carry and plant are meant to bring life to the surrounding area. The seeds we plant will bear fruit. The seeds we plant will multiply. That trusty “apetala 1” gene has programed the seed with exactly what to do – BLOOM.

I really believe this Spring is your Spring.

Your Spring to be reminded of the seeds that you have developed and planted in others. The power of your seeds to produce life. The power of the seeds you are planting. (Positive or negative?) The power of you opening up and showing the world your beauty. The power of you blooming. The power of your superbloom.

It’s time for us to bloom.

Cheers to you.

Lent? Ash Wednesday? What?

lint, ash???

True confession…

(Inserting a preemptive apology to my Catholic friends and followers… I am sorry.)

As a Protestant, (that even holds a Theology degree) I have never honored Ash Wednesday as anything unique, other than the start of the Easter season. But I have observed those who attend an Ash Wednesday service and usually receive a cross made of ashes on their forehead to wear for a day.

I’ve never done so myself.

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday when this will be practiced by thousands all over the world, so I’d like to address a couple of things about it. Consider it a short Lent refresher class with value for you (and me) regardless of what we believe.

“Ash Wednesday (46 days before Easter) marks the beginning of Lent which is a 40-day period (not counting Sundays) marked by repentance, fasting, reflection and celebration.” (Christianity.com/Kelly Givens) It is intended to represent the 40 day period that Jesus spent fasting in the desert. It’s purpose is for believers to have a set time each year to focus on Jesus’ life, sacrifice and resurrection. For them to have a set time each year to self-reflect, evaluate, repent as needed and say no to their own desires by fasting (going without) some food or thing.

Without any ashes on my forehead, I see great value in that.

There’s no doubt in my mind that our world in general and my/your personal world would benefit from more reflective and evaluative times like this. Times when we intentionally deny our wants to pursue a new set of eyes, decluttered heart and fresh purpose.

Although the Catholic Church observes specific “rules” for this season, that is not my vision for us/this.

I truly believe that those who are looking for inspiration, change, breakthrough, effectiveness, wisdom, strength, and purpose will find it in this concept and can find it in this 40-day season.

Change doesn’t come by doing the same thing over and over. That’s called a rut. Others have called it a grave. Change comes because someone dared to do something different. Something different has been done and thereby reflected in something new and fresh in your life.

What do you have to loose should you give yourself to a season of personal evaluation & repentance? What’s the down side of refusing to indulge in something you like for a while? Seriously? You will not die without it! That’s sacrifice.

What just might happen in your life should you get intentional about the changes you may be looking for? What might happen should your effort match your desire? Isn’t the change you seek worth it?

I’m sorry, I don’t mean to preach. I am just so passionate about this right now because I am giving myself to this concept beginning March 1- April 9. Those are my 40 days! My lent. And I am excited… albeit a bit nervous, but I’m in. Going for it.

Anyone wanna join me?

Do whatever you feel, go without what you feel impressed to, but don’t stay in a rut. Let’s do some reflection, repentance, and celebrating change! Let’s get off the “rut” freeway.

Now is your time (and mine).

Cheers to you.

A Little OCD?

How do you respond to these?

Be honest.

Do they make your brain hurt, your eyes enlarge or your head shake? What is your response to the one (or ones) who clearly misaligned these pictures? What were THEY thinking?

I love these types of pics and am one who is driven a lil cray-cray by them. I am also the one who when reattaching the wall socket plug plate, screws in the screws so that they wind up facing the same direction.

screws lined up
screws NOT lined up

I also oftentimes rearrange the cups in the top shelf of the dishwasher and sometimes even the silverware too. At my boat, I have taken flack from my son because “I’m obsessive” about winding the dock lines.

And while we’re on the topic of the boat, my philosophy definitely is “a place for everything and everything in it’s place.”

and yes, I am obsessive about it 🙂

Here’s the deal. According to a Healthline article by Julia Haskins, April, 2014

“Obsessive-compulsive thinking is completely normal, with about 94% of the population experiencing some kind of unwanted or intrusive thought…”

In a study across six continents and 13 countries, more than 90% of the participants reported having “unwanted, intrusive thoughts”. (UIT)

The article goes on to say, “unwanted, intrusive thoughts may be a nuisance, but even the strangest thoughts that cross our minds are really quite common”. “It’s how people react to these thoughts that’s of the greatest concern. Most people are able to brush off irritating yet benign thoughts, but for those with obsessive-compulsive disorder…it’s much more difficult.”

So, see, I am normal in that regard. And that would mean so is my husband (who measures inches from the wall to his desk), my son (who is detail obsessed), my friend (who notices when things are moved in her room), and my boss (who teaches me to properly align the jewelry showcases & notices when they are NOT perfect).

What about you? Are you part of the 94% who also have a touch of OCD?

You see, whether someone is in the 94% or the 6% (who don’t), it’s how people react to those thoughts that’s the greatest concern. Are you able to recognize the “obsessive” rolling of the ropes, and rearranging of the cups as a nuisance and brush it off?

Do you see that you do have control over those pesty UIT’s ? (unwanted intrusive thoughts). Do you understand that you CAN control them and make efforts to do so?

THAT’S the difference between it being an nuisance or a disorder.

I tease and am teased all the time about being OCD, and truthfully, 94% of us are to some degree. But it’s no joke to any who have been or should be diagnosed with OCD. That is 2.3% of the population, 2.2 million adults in the US in 2018, 1 in 40 adults and 1 in 100 kids.

Those diagnosed with OCD (Daniel Radcliffe, Frank Sinatra, Howie Mandel, Charlize Theron, Leo DiCaprio or Howard Stern) have had to learn how to react to those UIT’s. How to best control them. They have found help and a way to best manage them and so can you.

Take whatever step is next for you. Some may seek help. Others will adjust the jewelry cases or make a detailed list. Still others will look at the pictures at the top of this blog and marvel that someone would actually do THAT!

Because we are all a little OCD.

Cheers to you.

You were made to stand out

what stands out here?

I recently saw this on my walk (actually I’ve seen it hundreds of times but this time I stopped, studied it, and shot a pic of it).

Each time I’ve walked by it I’ve been struck with the absolute beauty of the perfectly sculptured tree in the middle (I don’t know what kind it is), how high it is, (probably 50-75 feet high) and how it just doesn’t fit in with the other trees. There’s no way this tree is weekly manicured and tended too, it’s just to high to reach. And yet, it’s stunning beauty, perfect lines and symmetry are impossible to miss. It stands out.

It’s easy to see why it seems like it doesn’t belong or fit on this hillside. There’s not another tree like it anywhere near this spot. It simply is not like the other trees, not even close. It appears to have nothing in common with the other trees, (except being a tree). The external comparisons are off the charts, bonkers! It is alone, significantly different from all the others, and totally outnumbered by the others.

And yet, here it is. Standing tall. Beautiful. Eye catching. And, hopefully proud.

The applications seem apparent, obvious.

You are THAT beautiful, perfectly sculptured, lonely, different, tall, eye catching and hopefully proud tree. Within your DNA is the design to make you stand out from the crowd, stand alone as YOU, and make a beautiful difference on your hillside.

When you feel like you don’t fit or belong or are too different, just look at this picture and remember “You were made to stand out” and bring stunning beauty to your surroundings.

Flourish. Be you. Stand out. Be different. THAT’S what you were made to do.

Cheers to you.

Uninspired?

a ship in the doldrums

Feel sluggish, low in spirits/energy, depressed, perhaps unmotivated, unchallenged?

In a state of stagnation? Experiencing a lack of activity or progress? Feeling “stuck”?

All of us, at one time or another have faced these feelings and have had to decide what to do with them. How to maneuver through them, how to learn from them.

Allow me to utilize some sailing similes as we drift through the afore mentioned feelings or “DOLDRUMS’. Have you been in the “doldrums”?

You younger ones perhaps have never heard that idiom used before. To be in the doldrums means – to be inactive, dull, quiet, sluggish, or lethargic. It was used in the 18th century when referring to a sluggish person, or a doldrum.

But alas, even that expression comes from the maritime use of doldrums. You see, sailors hate (and have for a very long time) the doldrums. Why? Because the doldrums are a monotonous, windless section of the ocean, where sailing ships sometimes get stuck on the water for weeks at a time. The doldrums are referred to as “an ocean parking lot around the Equator”. (Joano Turner, Theoceanrace.com)

The doldrums are a 50-250 mile wide strip of ocean that runs 5 degrees above the Equator to 5 degrees below the Equator. It is the section of the ocean at the Equator where there are no winds. The trade winds from the North meet the trade winds from the South and as they are heated, those winds rise up, leaving no steady surface winds on the ocean. “The doldrums are a band of calms & light baffling winds North & South of the Equator in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.” A sailor could sail for weeks in a flat, calm ocean.

The doldrums also have a reputation as being the “dead zone”. It can be a life and death issue for sailors, as running out of food and water while stalled out there can lead to delirium, scurvy, starvation and cabin fever. In addition, the intense solar air at the Equator makes this ocean area not only the “dreaded doldrums” but also “the desert of the ocean”.

Stay with me… besides science and sailing, we’re talking about you and me, too. But in a moment…

The sailing pros who deal with the doldrums most effectively are those who race in the 8 month, 45,000 nautical mile, around the world sailing race, called The Volvo Ocean Race. Every three years it is held, usually begins in Spain, consists of 9/10, 20 day legs, reaching 6 continents, until the world has been circumnavigated.

What to do in the doldrums?

What do you do in the doldrums? How do you get out? Get through? Here’s the advice from those pros.

” A major priority – avoid allowing boats to stop completely because overcoming inertia to get moving again requires significant increase of wind strength. A strategy for getting through includes a series of short term tacks…” (The Equator Doldrums Explained 11/15/11, Volvo Ocean Race)

Let’s bring this back to us now.

There are times we get stuck, feel unmotivated, uninspired, sluggish, stagnant & like we’re not making any progress. There are times we are in the doldrums of life. We’re in the “dead zone” or “desert”. It’s dry, hot, monotonous, boring and there is no noticeable forward progress. It can be dangerous, even life threatening too, if we don’t learn how to deal with it. We, like sailors, hate the doldrums, and we can escape them like great sailors.

The major priority – do not come to a complete stop. Do not. No checking out. No hiding. No withdrawing. Stay in the game. Keep up relationships. Keep plodding though. Be honest with yourself and keep moving. Small, strategic tacks (course changes) will get you out of the dreaded doldrums.

We can usually tell when we are approaching the doldrums. THAT’S the time to make a slight course change. Not when we are already stopped and totally depressed. Remember, it takes more strength to overcome the inertia of a stationary object (you/me) than it does to make a course correction.

With skillful sailing and wise choices, we can make it through the doldrums of life. We can avoid being stuck in the dead zone for any major length of time by making those strategic tacks. We can avoid cabin fever, starvation & delirium.

Cool thing too about the doldrums, as slow as they are, you can go from 1 to 100 in seconds, because of the erratic weather patterns.

So, hang on, change is coooooooommmmiiinnngggg!!!! We’re busting loose of those dreaded doldrums.

Cheers to you.

Seasons of love

One of the greatest musical theatre anthems and declarations.

Every day is the right season for love, not just on Valentine’s Day. It has nothing to do with having a special someone in your life, exchanging sappy cards or purchasing flowers or a nice dinner out.

It has to do with you. How you choose to love and be loved. How you love yourself. How you love others. How you recognize love in your surroundings. How you accept love. How you allow love to change you. How your love changes others. You are the object of love.

Here’s the standard for love.

” Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyously celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. Love never stops loving.”

The Bible, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (The Passion Translation)

If that is the standard for love, and I believe it is, then I have a lifetime job of living up to THAT love. I don’t need a boyfriend, husband, wife, girlfriend or lover. I don’t need a best friend, sister, brother, child or acquaintance to work on this love. If I’m being honest, this love, is my homework application everyday of my life.

As I learn to accept this lavish love it will change me. This love will show in my life with patience, gentleness, kindness, humility, respect, honesty, faith and perseverance. This love will be more than just a season of love, it will become the measure of my whole life.

On THIS day, when Hallmark’s business is off the charts and florists are filling orders like crazy, know this – YOU ARE LOVED. You are loved by the very one who wrote the standard of love and then demonstrated the full extent of that lavish, pure and freeing love. You are loved by the very one and only one who can empower you to live by His standard of love.

Renew your pursuit of love and allow Love to overcome you. Not just for a season.

1 John 4:19 – “We love because He first loved us.”

Cheers to you.

Love is all around us